New Brunswick’s health-care system is in crisis. The strain on resources and health-care professionals has underscored the fragility of our system. While dedicated health-care professionals tirelessly endeavour to deliver the best possible care, it has become evident that without swift action from the provincial government, the needs of New Brunswickers cannot be fully met.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) took proactive measures by hosting a Pre-Budget Health Stakeholder Forum in Fredericton on January 18, 2024. The forum, conducted in the absence of government-led consultation, brought together 47 key stakeholders from 17 health-care organizations, collectively representing approximately 25,000 health-care professionals. The stakeholders, which included those from within and outside regional health authorities, as well as allied health and clinical support roles, convened to address the pressing issues plaguing our health care system. The event provided a platform for each of New Brunswick’s major political party leaders to present their vision and platform for health care. Premier Blaine Higgs of the Progressive Conservative Party, David Coon of the Green Party, and Susan Holt of the Liberal Party shared their insights and participated in a robust Q&A session.

Following the presentations, forum attendees actively engaged in discussions, identifying six priority areas along with corresponding recommendations that demand immediate government attention and investment in the upcoming budget and beyond. These initiatives, if implemented, hold the potential to not only stabilize but also transform New Brunswick’s health-care landscape. While some recommendations necessitate long-term planning and resources, others present actionable solutions that could yield tangible results in the short term.

“Based on the discussions that day, it is abundantly clear that New Brunswickers deserve better access to quality health care,” said Dr. Paula Keating, President of the NBMS. “The dedication and resilience demonstrated by our health-care professionals highlight their unwavering commitment to the well-being of our communities. Now, more than ever, it is imperative for the provincial government to heed the call, assume accountability, and translate these recommendations into actionable policies.”

The forum resulted in the creation of a pre-budget submission entitled 2024 Pre-Budget Health Stakeholder Forum Report – Recommendations to Stabilize & Transform New Brunswick’s Health Care System. The report was made public on March 12th at a news conference which resulted in broad coverage from all major media outlets, including at least a dozen print, radio and television features.

Priorities & Recommendations: A Blueprint for Reforming New Brunswick’s Health-care System

The report proposes a comprehensive set of priorities and recommendations aimed at stabilizing and transforming the province’s health-care landscape. These recommendations outline actionable steps and the budget required to address the critical issues and ensure the delivery of high-quality care to all New Brunswickers.


“As stakeholders and advocates for a stronger, more resilient health-care system, we urge the provincial government to prioritize the voices of those on the front lines and implement measures that will enhance access, quality, and sustainability in our health-care delivery. Together, let us build a healthier future for all New Brunswickers,” said Dr. Keating.

Priority 1: Re-engage with health-care professionals to support informed and transparent decision-making.


  • Reinstate annual pre-budget consultations with health-care professionals.
  • Foster meaningful collaboration through the Health System Collaboration Council.
  • Depoliticize decision-making by appointing an apolitical council chair and ensuring transparency in council proceedings.
  • Prioritize consultation and advanced notice for stakeholders impacted by government decisions.

Priority 2: Create and scale multidisciplinary team-based primary care clinics across the province.


  • Establish at least 50 primary care clinics under the Patient Medical Home Model in both rural and urban areas.
  • Develop patient-centric navigation services to enhance access to primary health care.
  • Support legislative improvements and administrative efficiency in health-care practices.
  • Invest in administrative support to alleviate clinician burden.

Priority 3: Prioritize the respect and retention of health-care professionals.


  • Enhance remuneration, incentives, and benefits to retain health-care professionals.
  • Offer job opportunities to local students and improve orientation and mentorship programs.
  • Implement tuition forgiveness models and facilitate pathways for international graduates to practice in New Brunswick.


Priority 4: Prioritize healthy living and preventative care.


  • Implement comprehensive nutritional school food programs and support services.
  • Invest in programs promoting physical and mental health education.
  • Foster partnerships and provide funding for infrastructure promoting healthy behaviors.

Priority 5: Fix root causes of issues in the long-term care system.


  • Invest in discharge teams operating seven days a week.
  • Enhance governance and collaboration between long-term care and regional health authorities.
  • Expand home care programs and create affordable long-term care options.

Priority 6: Invest in the digital transformation of the health-care sector.


  • Fully fund Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems for primary care providers.
  • Implement province-wide clinical information systems in hospitals.
  • Expand MyHealthNB portal and integrate with province-wide information systems.
  • Establish an online database for professional practice reports and health program data.

“These recommendations represent a collective effort to address immediate challenges and lay the groundwork for a more resilient and sustainable health-care system in New Brunswick, said Dr. Keating. “It is imperative that the provincial government listens to these calls for action, takes accountability, and implements these recommendations to ensure the health and well-being of all New Brunswickers.”

Nora Lacey, Chief of Physician & Patient Engagement